Grammy Award Lifetime achievement honorees
Burt Bacharach Few musicial talents can boast a songwriting oeuvre like Bacharach's. After six decades (including 48 top 10 hits, nine No. 1 songs and more than 500 compositions), Bacharach's signature style of lush, orchestral arrangements paired with memorable hooks has made him a favorite of musicians from Dionne Warwick to Elvis Costello.
The Hollywood Reporter: How do you remain contemporary when the rest of the music scene keeps changing?
Burt Bacharach: It's hills and valleys. I've had some real empty periods. But if you asked me to write a song like "Don't Make Me Over" for the new Dionne Warwick (album) ... it's not the language I speak now. You just don't sit back and get set in life.
THR: What filters do you use to access today's music?
Bacharach: Radio is just a nightmare, but you can get some stuff on NPR you're not going to hear on any other radio station. It used to be radio was the great proponent for music, but everything has changed radically, and nobody has come up with a solution yet.
THR: Do you own an iPod?
Bacharach: I do. There's some great records on there. That's where I go to when I want to feel good on a plane -- "After the Love Has Gone" by Earth, Wind & Fire; "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Diana Ross; anything by Michael McDonald, because he is just delicious.
THR: You've collaborated with Hal David, your then-wife Carole Bayer Sager and many others. What makes for a good collaborative team?
Bacharach: You don't have to have dinner with them; you don't have to room with them. Hal David -- we were together for years and had our bumps, but we were fine. And if there's a reason to collaborate with him again, sure, I would. You bet.
The Band Canadians Robbie Robertson, Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko and American Levon Helm toured with Bob Dylan in the mid-1960s, but the Band's 1968 debut, "Music From Big Pink," and their self-titled 1969 follow-up, made them stars. In 1976, they ended things with a star-studded concert that became the subject matter of Martin Scorsese's "The Last Waltz."
The Hollywood Reporter: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted the Band in 1994. What's taken Grammy so long to give you all a lifetime achievement award?
Robbie Robertson: I have no idea -- but (NARAS president) Neil Portnow called and explained that the Grammy voters go through a very meticulous process. It's interesting, because when the Band were doing their thing, they didn't give Grammys to groups like us.
THR: What were the high and low points of the Band's career?
Robertson: The low point would be that after "The Last Waltz," we had no plans of not working together. There were complications within the group, and going on the road was feeding those complications, so we needed to stop and regroup -- and we never regrouped. The high point in a case like this is usually when your first work comes out and the response to that. Ours was looked at under the microscope, and we came out pretty good. But "Last Waltz" -- that's pretty much unchallenged in its musical contribution to film and as an event.
THR: What appealed to audiences about the Band's music?
Robertson: One thing was the Band was a true band, it wasn't like a singer and a guitar player and some other guys. You could hear our music, and there was gospel, mountain music, R&B, basic rock 'n' roll.
THR: Do you regret that the Band couldn't hold it together in the long haul?
Robertson: We were like a street gang, only we played music. We would experiment -- not only with music but with growing up.
Recognizable as a name even in a pop-music universe, the Juilliard-trained Perlman has played violin around the world (usually solo) and more recently conducted. He has also contributed solos to soundtracks such as 1993's "Schindler's List" and 2005's "Memoirs of a Geisha." Currently, Perlman holds the Dorothy Richard Starling Foundation Chair at Juilliard.
The Hollywood Reporter: What drew you to the violin?
Itzhak Perlman: It's the sound. Usually when people play anything as children, it's the sound that drives them. I liked the sound of the violin, so there never was any question of what I would do.
THR: You grew up in Israel during the late '40s and early '50s. Was there pressure on you not to go into music, to do something else?
Perlman: On the contrary. Sometimes countries go through cycles as to what they do, and when I was doing it, the cycle was at the beginning of everyone playing a string instrument. It wasn't like I was in the middle of a desert and everyone else was doing computers and I was the only one doing fiddle.
THR: You've worked hard to bring classical music to the masses. Why in this country at least is classical music such a niche art form?
Perlman: Think about the ratio of classical radio stations to nonclassical radio stations: it's pathetic. You have to make some sort of effort, and not everybody has that interest. You also have to have a really exciting program in the schools, and that doesn't happen very often.
THR: What's your greatest musical achievement?
Perlman: Surviving, I guess. As long as my playing is something people can identify with, as long as I'm still contemporary in the way I do things, then I'll be happy.
The foremost banjo player in the business, Scruggs started out in 1945 with Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys, later pairing up with guitarist Lester Flatt and then forming the Earl Scruggs Revue with his sons. He wrote the theme for "The Beverly Hillbillies"and "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," which was featured in 1967's "Bonnie & Clyde."
The Hollywood Reporter: You've got a roomful of awards; what makes getting a lifetime achievement Grammy special?
Earl Scruggs: They're all special. It's nice to be in a business where you get an award every once in a while -- I'm proud of it.
THR: What appeals to you about the banjo and bluegrass?
Scruggs: I was raised with the banjo. My dad died when I was only 4 years old, and he was a farmer, but he loved straight acoustic music and he played a little banjo, not commercially. I grew up poor, and for amusement you just had to do it yourself. So that's what we did: We'd sit around and play the same thing over and over but in different ways.
THR: Your three-finger style of picking has become known as "Scruggs style." Are you pleased that it has become so imitated?
Scruggs: I'm pleased that people like anything I do.
THR: What's your greatest achievement in music?
Scruggs: Well, I guess the longevity of (my career). It's not something that happened overnight and flamed out. It's going bigger now than it was 60 years ago when I first started.
THR: Why do you think that is?
Scruggs: I don't know why people like what you do, but you don't question it, so you just keep going.